Ready, Steady, Listen Up–Again!: More New CD Audiobooks at APL

So, we’ve established that some of us are a bit old-school and still love to pop the odd CD into the player rather than queuing up listens on phones, iPods, or various car streaming systems. (Don’t remember? Have a look at this post). And that’s OK. Fortunately, the Abbot Library caters to both techies and Luddites alike. If you’re one of the former, you can revel in the exceptional content on offer on hoopla and Overdrive/Libby. But if you’d like to check out the latest audiobooks in physical format, look no further than this collection in the library catalog, place a hold, and grab your choice using our popular curbside pickup service!

If you’re a fan of all things British, we’ve got historical fiction, literary fiction, and an autobiography on tap for you. Hilary Mantel’s last volume in her Tudor trilogy, The Mirror and the Light, brings her fictional exploration of Thomas Cromwell’s turbulent life to a close after nearly a  decade. You’ll not want to miss it, and if you haven’t yet read Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies (or need a refresher), they’re ready for you, too. If you’re an Austenite, you’ll be delighted by Natalie Jenner’s The Jane Austen Society, in which a group of unlikely fans unite forces to save a vital piece of literary history (and in the process save each other–click here for a review). Or you can do one better than tea with the Queen: have a listen to the fascinating memoir Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown by Anne Glenconner

Another historical novel by Lisa Wingate (author of Before We Were Yours) will take you to the post-bellum South alongside three women of vastly different experiences and positions in pre-Civil War society–an heiress to a plantation, her unacknowledged half sister, and a slave. Check out The Book of Lost Friends to find out more. 

And if you want a thriller by a tried-and-true master of the genre, you’ll not go wrong with Harlan Coben’s The Boy from the Woods, in which a lone forest dweller assists with an investigation into a girl’s disappearance, or John Sandford’s Masked Prey, which weaves an absorbing tale from incidents of cyberstalking among Washington’s elite.

Firm favorites Emily Giffin and Diane Chamberlain each make an appearance as well, so be sure to have a look!

And for you techies, all but one of these offerings is available in audio format on Overdrive/Libby (The Boy from the Woods can be borrowed as an ebook).

Happy listening!

Saving Jane: “The Jane Austen Society” by Natalie Jenner

While Jane Austen is now considered to be one of the greats of English literature, her legacy has not always been so secure. We tend to assume that nearly every famous British writer has his or her blue plaque gracing some historic building in the UK. And doesn’t Jane’s image grace the £10 note? But Chawton Cottage in Hampshire, where Austen enjoyed her most creative period, was not dedicated as a museum until after World War II. Before that, it was subdivided into workers’ cottages and bore little resemblance to what it once was. It is during this somewhat precarious period in the cottage’s history that debut author Natalie Jenner sets her charming novel, The Jane Austen Society.

“Three or four families in a country village is the very thing to work upon,” Austen counseled her aspiring-novelist niece: Jenner takes that suggestion to heart in this carefully-crafted book. The cast is small, and we get to know them well. While they may not be family, they are united by their love of Jane. As in Austen’s novels, plot is secondary to conversation and character development. The chief aim of most of the characters (all of the sympathetic ones, at least) is simple–to purchase and restore Chawton Cottage via a charitable trust. But the chief pleasure to be had here springs from observing the complex emotional journeys of an array of unlikely friends: a country doctor, a housemaid, a lawyer, an American screen siren, the last direct descendent of Jane’s brother Edward Austen-Knight, a farmer, a schoolteacher, and a Sotheby’s auctioneer. The lives of all have been marred by tragedies of various sorts–most of which have taken place off-stage, before the story begins (though Jenner renders a young war widow’s miscarriage and a near-rape in somewhat harrowing detail). Physical objects also play key roles, with Austen’s jewelry, her brother’s grand library, and one of her newly-discovered letters driving the action at points. The author’s delicately deft handling of these threads keeps the reader entranced. So does the suggestion that, amid the struggle to save Austen’s home, these lost souls just might save each other.

Jenner’s novel is not exactly fan fiction, as it neither attempts to mimic Austenian style nor resurrect her characters. However, there are references aplenty to Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion in particular, and the reader will be sure to spot circumstantial resemblances–a long-regretted broken engagement, for instance–as well as believable twentieth-century permutations of favorite heroes and antiheroes. There is much to praise and very little to fault, and as you turn the last page, you very well might find yourself agreeing with Jane’s observation that “if a book is well-written I always find it too short.”

You can access The Jane Austen Society in both ebook and audiobook format on Overdrive/Libby with your Marblehead library card. If you need a card, get started here!